Super Steele Family Adventures: Homeschooling Hell-o (and Goodbye) edition

Day: 4,000,2 gazillion,301

Time: what does the word “time” mean anymore o’Clock, pm-ish, or maybe am….ish.

Captain’s Log:

Our “extended” spring break officially began Monday March 16th.

Original end of “Extended” Spring Break: Wednesday April 1st.

(ALL the Red flags)

Today, Friday, April 17th, marks day 35.

Technically. Because in the real world…. it surely feels like day whatever I said up there.

Even though we all knew this was our likely future for the rest of the school year, it still seemed surreal.

Soul leaving body, surreal.

The first week or 2, I was pumped, energized, excited. All my wires were firing in sync for the first time in their lives.

I still am feeling all those feelings.

But on Day 35, my shiny excitement has dulled a little.

In a good way though.

And yes…I AM counting weekends and not just school days because it just never ends. They are always here…..they know where I am hiding BEFORE I DO!!!!

“I love our girls. I love our girls. I love our girls times infinity.” I must repeat to myself constantly…..

I struggled. HARD. I had such an INSANE bi-polar 24hrs, that my wires were starting to glitch.

Little by little. I became overwhelmed.

I got hyper focused on making the girls’ Easter, the best EVER.

A few more glitches and I started powering down in to survival mode.

And then this week comes barging in. Bursting through the locked doors. Music came to a screeching halt. Sun burned hotter.

And I just wanted to escape.

So I did…

I escaped straight to food. And alcohol.

I don’t know about you, but this whole homeschooling distance learning thing – is a special kind of hell.

2 kids w/ SEVERE ADHD + 2 kids w/ SEVERE Anxiety + 1 w/ Autisum + Technology + Schoolwork = maybe hell isn’t the party that I am hoping it will be…..

I struggled SO HARD.

April 1st to April 12th, were our warm up weeks. Our time to practice it all and work out all the kinks and get all the tools.

And just review. For now. Bc school will be back open on April 28th.

Email after email after email after email after email after e- oh, you get the point.

But email after email – from teachers, and friends, and ALLLLLL the companies you have spent money at since the moment you were born…..

Fine. Moving on.

They arrived. One after the other. Sometimes in such quick succession, that by the time opened one, another would arrive with a whole new site and a whole new login that I needed to ask my severe ADHD kiddos for because “your student logs in with this every day so they should know it!”

Phew. Just reliving this is making me want to take a nap.

We eventually got everything set up. But some details were limited. And some still are honestly.

And that is when the rumor we all knew to be truth before it was official, was confirmed.

School cancelled for the rest of the year…………………..

……um, excuse me? You want me to work from home, be the keeper of the household, and not only parent my special needs kids, but TEACH them as well?

And without all the tools and assistance and support that one of them gets via her IEP???

Heh. It was in this moment that I realized that teachers deserve all the money. In the entire world. All. The. Money. Your money. My money. Their money. Just give it to them!

I digress.

Enter in April 13th. In other words, the day we prepared for by doing a crash course in “be careful for what you wish for-ology….”

You see….bc of E’s school journey, and B’s at times, we have always had homeschooling in the forefront of our brain.

“We will see how this year goes….”

“If only I could figure out how to work from home, and then I could homeschool her/them….”

“My dream is to work from home, write a book, hike….”

“We cant leave. There are too many people that love our girls. They all need eachother…..”

A wish, a thought, that was just that. A non tangible idea.

Heh. The Steele’s have a way of jinxing themselves.

You see..while we have talked about it….a bunch. We never actually talked about how it would actually work.

So. Mama Steele did what Mama Steele does best. She spent hours researching and listening and compiling alllll the educational resources. One excel sheet has about 10 tabs……..

Schedules were made. And failed. And patched. And changed. And thrown out. And figured out.

And then in-school learning, came to an end. For the remainder of this school year.

Emails came rushing back to the inbox. At one point, I had 12 emails snoozed because I just couldn’t right now.

New logins were made and remembered.

New shortcuts found.

New technology fail achievements unlocked.

New problems unearthed. New frustrations had. New Mike’s hard lemonades inhaled (No really. It was Pineapple Mandarine (-elicious)- Limited edition).

Day 1 – how do you delete your entire school/work profile on your tablet?!!?!?!?!?!?!

Day 2 – when I said please help your little sister figure out how to get to her virtual class hangout, I did NOT mean to unenroll her from her google class!!!!! Wait….how did you even do that??? Crap… need a special code? Oh and of course the teacher is busy, so….3rd try will be better.

Day 3 – Dear Teachers, I am overwhelmed. It’s too much. What is the minimum required? oh and p.s. We will give it our all, but a decision will be made this weekend and a vote will be had amongst our family – distance learning or unschooling. p.p.s. unschooling is leading in polls.

Day 4 – I woke up angrily hitting dismiss on my alarm because how dare I set an alarm for 412am on a Saturday, and I fell back asleep, only to suddenly realize that it was in fact THURSDAY NOT SATURDAY!!!!!

ahha, first red flag of the day. 2nd red flag: 3rd try at this google hangout thingy.

Work profile: check.

Enrolled in class: check.

App downloaded: check.

And the link was just posted! Click!

Error. Mic and Video need to have permissions granted. So granted they will be!

……or not…..I own this tablet! How do I NOT have administrators power to grant said required permissions????????

Day 4 cont’d: Dear Teacher, I give up. She will attend the virtual class next week. Oh and Please put us on the list for 2 chromebooks to try out before we buy bc I cant be responsible for loaned material….there is a reason we do not go to the library or rent anything………..

Day 5: eh, it’s just 2 months really. Let’s figure out what the bare minimum requirements are.

This week, started out like a bad thriller movie that tried reall hard to be a hip new superhero franchise. One where you know the ending. You know which actors are going to be gone first. Which actors will fall in love. Which hero is actually the villain.

But, as I am sitting here writing this, as the sun falls below the horizon to the West, I realize the things I didn’t focus on.

I realize the little moments that I should have paid more attention to. The little moments that mattered more than whatever was going on with technology and school.

While I was SO FOCUSED on how nothing was working. How nothing seemed to go right. How I had to waste another afternoon resetting E’s tablet to reinstall her school logins.

Hey – at least it wasn’t 2 days like the first time….!

While I was convinced that the world would end if I didn’t ensure that our girls were doing ALL the schoolwork.

The girls were thriving. They were laughing. They were exploring and living.

I struggled mostly privately. They feed off of my anxiety levels. So I HAVE to remain calm around them.

But as soon as I let go, of this whole “if I don’t make my kids do ALL of their homework, even though their teachers and every other person on this planet says don’t worry about it……, then I am not actually Super Mama Steele.”

But last night, evening of Day 4 of distance learning, something happened that made everything just finally click.

All the brain wiring glitches I was having, finally reourted and mended themselves.

Day 4, didn’t go too bad actually.

Until bedtime. And I am not sure what happened, but B just broke.

She cried. And yelled. But it wasn’t from anger.

No. This was a pain from sadness.

We talk about how she has an inner dragon that likes to break free sometimes. And we talk about ways to tame that dragon; to become friends with that dragon; to live with that dragon.

But last night, I let her stomp off. I saw her just hide behind the corner.

“Do you need a hug” I asked her?

“……yes” she quietly breathed behind flowing tears.

We embraced in a physical Wakanda hug.

“I am going to bed, would you like to come out on in Mama’s room for a little bit?” I gently offer.

“…….uh-huh” she whispered as her forearm swept away the river.

We went upstairs. Snuggled in to bed.

“Do you want to cuddle with Mama?” I ask her, hopefully.

“No.” she stammered”

“That’s OK. We can just lay here. I am going to do my bedtime routine. I am here to listen when you need to talk,” I say as I carefully pass the choice.

And we laid there. I turned on my TV. I snuggled under the blankets, kicked the blankets off one foot and placed my right foot under my left knee….ahhhhhhhhhh this is my favorite position, I remind myself.

I press play. And I hear her voice.

I press pause. And I listen to her words. Her tone. Her tears.

I impart some motherly wisdom. And she is ready to go to bed in her room.

I quickly fall asleep afterwards, but am suddenly awoken by another little voice.

“Mama….can I come lay with you for a little bit?” She slyly asks….as if she didn’t already know my answer.

“Of course lovebug,” I replied as I motioned for her to come on in, the bed is warm.

I went back to sleep.

And at some point during the night, my shoulders relaxed and my breath slowed.

It wasn’t until after going to the school to empty out/pick up all of B’s school supplies and unfinished projects, did I realize what the universe had been trying to tell me all along.

As we walked back to the room, thru the recess grounds, it felt eerily quiet. Chalk scribbles still adorned the walls. Left when school was supposed to be back in session 17 days after.

And it hit me then, that what we are experiencing, is something beyond any of our collective experiences.

The entire world, is sharing in this one shared experience. The ENTIRE WORLD.

And that includes our kids.

As we walked back to our car, I was suddenly reminded that when I was a Sophmore in High School, our school year was cut short by a month or so. Due to budget cuts. There was not enough money to finish the school year.

Yes. I know it is not the same. But I still expereinced the pain of not being able to properly say goodbye. And the unknowing of what it actually meant. And the anxiety.

I don’t remember the homework, or lack thereof. I don’t even remember if we had to do school work at home, or if we just all said goodbye. It was 2003 – pre distance learning.

But what I DO REMEMBER – is not the stress of doing schoolwork, or the missed opportunities. And I definitely remember not being behind the following school year.

And as I told B this, I realized then, that we will do the bare minimum when that is all we can do.

I realized that this is an intense moment for everyone. I need to let my personal guilt trip go, and realize that the teachers are not going to be mad if my kiddos do not do everything they are asked of. In fact, instead, my kids will not be adversely academically affected at all.

E will have major regressions, but we will cross that tightrope when we get there.

No. I realized that we will get thru this. Whether the girls do the bare minimum the rest of the school year (and beyond if needed), or if they go above and beyond.

Because right now, they are growing in so many ways, its mind-blowing.

They are becoming independent. They are learning how to make their own foods. They are learning the true meaning of “good – be bored!” They are learning how to look at their world, in an entirely different manner.

They are even learning how to traverse their own storms. They are riding their bikes. Constantly. They are falling off of them, getting bruised and bloodied. But they are dusting themselves off, and getting back on them.

Lego creations have been built and destroyed and then rebuilt. Eggs have been hidden again and again. Tears have been shed, emotions felt, all the candy eaten right up until bedtime.

Taekwondo zoom lessons performed in the not yet planted garden as the sun is setting. All the waffles eaten and a drawer full of milk collected because hello – lactose intolerance. But don’t worry – Papa took them all off their hands.

Plenty o’ puppies petted and probably pspoiled pnow.

Papa DEFINITELY spoiled.

Homeschooling – freaking sucks. Not gonna lie.

But today, I learned how to let it go. And let them live.

I much rather like the smiling and adventurous kids that came out to play today, than the angry and sad world we lived in for the first 4 days of this week.

Will they do all their homework during this time? Heh – probably not.

Will they regress and have a huge adjustment when they do need to go back to in-school learning? Um…yes.

Will they be making memories to last a lifetime and learning along the way? Heck yes!

Those lessons may include some math, reading, writing.

But I really hope those lessons are built around adapting, experiencing, imagining, adventuring,

And I know that whatever the future is going to bring us, I know that these girls, our girls, are strong and smart and creative and dedicated and fierce and passionate and vulnerable and adventurous and persistent.

One day, they will go back to school and we will not have this time together.

But for now, I am going to take this time to turn every little moment, every little adventure, in to a memorable lesson learned.

And sometimes, us adults, us parents, need to learn a lesson.

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